JOHN MEANEY

16.10.05

NOT DROWNING...

...just waving. In passing. Never one to suffer URL envy, I've just returned from a brief foray into Neil Gaiman's website. Blimey! Obviously he has a demon doppelganger to write the blog entries, just as Charlie Stross has a virtual daemon personality construct to write his. I've been very remiss in posting here recently, but all of my personalities reside inside the one skull, with only one pair of hands. I guess that's the drawback of touch typing (which by the way, for any budding would-be writers out there, is a MUST HAVE skill that I suggest you develop with one of them there typing tutorial programs); otherwise I could use two keyboards at once, split-brain-wise. Though I possess no doppelblogger, I promise to be here regularly for y'all from now on.

During the week I had an interesting discussion with some fine folk in Edinburgh (hi to Tracy, Simon, Lynn, Peter and Steve) while we perused the websites of Barry Eisler (a most excellent thriller writer whom I've mentioned before) and Neal Stephenson (whose books I'm assuming you know). Once upon a time, Mr Stephenson's site was a kind of anti-page, an unformatted page of html that told the world to leave him alone so he could write (unless you wanted to negotiate movie deals, in which case he provided the address of his agent). Now the site is prettily formatted, but delivers very much the same message. Barry's site, on the other hand (www.barryeisler.com), is cool, noir, professional, and welcomes contact with his readers.

The idea that this website could deliver any hint of my personality is subtly disturbing.

Two Sundays ago, I was travelling Up North, and as I passed through Euston Station I decided a visit to the coffee shop was in order. (Predictable? Moi?) There I bumped into famed Canadian author Steve Erikson. He was in the country as GoH (that's Guest of Honour, if you're not a convention-attending veteran fan) of the British Fantasy Con, which I hadn't noticed happening. Oops. But this was a random meeting. As Steve said, he knows about 30 people in the whole of Britain, so the chances of bumping into someone he knows are a little steep (about one in 20 million, depending on how you define the probability context). The world is weird.

Last week, as I said, I was in Edinburgh. Got to meet up with old friends and new while I was there, including Charlie Stross and Feorag, Ken MacLeod and Iain Banks. Charlie's Family Trade series has been called Zelaznyesque, which I think is the rarest of (deserved) compliments. I forgot to tell Charlie that I own a signed copy of Nine Princes In Amber, just in case he materializes in my home in the middle of the night, then whisks the amber volume into an alternate world that I can't reach.

I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but you know that Zelazny divided the universes into the true world of Amber, and the Shadow worlds it casts? Have you tried saying that in French? The universes consist of l'Ambre and l'Ombre. Neat, eh? (It works reasonably well in Spanish, too.)

Ghoulish thought of the day... It's getting late and I haven't yet worked out today, but I will. Hindu squats, hindu push-ups and bridging are going to be the core of my workout: they take only a few square feet of floor space. Hey, you've heard me mention Combat Conditioning before, but did you know this? Indian wrestlers base their unrivalled conditioning on exercises that take up no more space than it takes to for their corpses to be buried in. Isn't that a pleasantly ghastly image to hold in your mind, while energizing yourself?

My alternate history cold war thriller, New Jerusalem, is finished (for submission). I'm a long way into the first draft of a new horror/fantasy thriller which I hope everyone will like. After that, there's another Pilots book on the way. Ya heard it here first.

I'm not able to attend Octocon (the Irish national SF convention), though I'd love to: Charlie Stross is GoH, and visiting Ireland always allows me to see Anne McCaffrey and her folks, and Maggie and Eric Furey, who are good friends. When Yvonne and I returned from Worldcon in Glasgow, we found that being boarded (in a veterinary surgery) had been too stressful for one of the cats, Nutmeg. He was very ill. Future cons are going to have to take some planning. With luck, next month I'll be able to pop up to Novacon for a day, cos Al Reynolds is GoH, and it would be nice to see him and Josette again.

Squats and pushups await. Think positive, Pilots. Fly straight, take care.

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